Saturday, November 12, 2016

Westworld, Season One, Episode Six: The Adversary

Image result for westworld

Maeve! Maeve! Maeve!. Okay, y'all know that I have a massive thing for Maeve since she is being played by the ever so awesome Thandie Newton.  I've been waiting since the first time that she appeared on scene for her character to get some serious attention and finally it happened. 

Maeve has been on her journey of self awareness though it has largely been over shadowed by that of Delores.  This week, we watch as Maeve reports for work at her brothel with a real sense of purpose. A new customer arrives and rather than letting Clementine service him, Maeve takes over and leads the customer to a bedroom.  It begins with Maeve immediately emasculating her customer encouraging his violence by placing his hands around her throat.  

When next we see Maeve she's alert inside the lab.  It's clear that she allowed the John to kill her so that she could return to the lab.  That takes guts.  Let's remember that Maeve at this point only has a hunch that something shifty is going on and therefore it's a huge risk to encourage a man to strangle her so that she could end up someplace she's not 100% certain really exists.  As luck would have it, the tech she ends up with is Lutz.

Maeve immediately starts demanding answers and Lutz explains that she isn't human like he is.  For Maeve this is confusing because there seems to be no difference between her and Lutz. He proves that she's being controlled by pulling out a hand held device which accurately predicts what she's going to say.  It's enough to make Maeve go on the fritz and in the process, freaking Lutz the hell out.  He frankly tries to reboot Maeve.  Fortunately for him, Maeve comes back online; however, she's not satisfied and now wants to see the rest of the facility.  Lutz takes Maeve on a little tour and sees dead hosts being washed down, a bison being lead around on a leash, hosts kissing and even a set up for a shoot out over a card game. Maeve's fascinated and it's clear to both her and the viewer just how scripted her life is. Maeve pauses when she sees a promotional video for Westworld in which she sees herself and her daughter from another build.  

Salem, Season 3, Episode 2: The Heart is a Devil

Zombie Mary rises from the grave, righteously pissed at everyone, especially Tituba. Because Mary has always given Tituba way more grief than she deserves

The other Essex witches inform Mary what’s happened – she’s been bought back to kill the devil who will enslave them all and make up for what she did wrong. Mary, at least, isn’t having that and rightfully points out all of them are responsible for this and she’s definitely not playing scapegoat. Still only she can kill devil child because Motherhood (apparently) and she’s now bound to Salem forever… so hell may be preferable

She’s still obsessed with John which means Tituba can get her onside by showing her a future with John dead. Yup, the world may die but what she cares about is John – and off she goes for a brief sexual reunuion. John has questions – especially since he and Sebastian are still snarling at each other over who is responsible for Mary’s death – but is willing to shelve them because Sex. The next morning Mary opts to magically send him to sleep rather than explain so she can catch up with Baby Devil

Remember John was spared by Hawthorn last episode because they need him to train a militia? Well he’s not exactly getting on with that, partly because he has very real, scathing views at the idea of war as glorious. Tituba astrally projects her way to him to remind him that he did shoot someone last week who didn’t die and that, maybe, just maybe, this war could be supernatural so could he get on with the soldier training already so they don’t all die.

As she points out, she must save the world through 2 stubborn fools who only want to save each other. Tituba is too good for this

Of course, since we’re talking devil children and the man who didn’t die when John shot him was Native American I believe we’re in for a horrible story of demonic native American “savages” against good Christian settlers.

John finally begins the training and we’re introduced to a new character who is clearly worshipping John and desperately wants to help fight – and is able to sucker punch him so, skills, I guess. This character is also either a trans-man or, more likely given it’s Salem a woman pretending to be a man to get in on the fighting. I don’t know where this storyline is going but I am slightly bemused that this show seemed to think this was big surprising reveal at the end of the episode.

Tituba gets herself a set of cat’s eyes that let her spy through the cat because relying on these guys? Yes, she’s definitely going to need to keep an eye on things

Isaac has still decided he’s the hero of the slums, investigating murders – in this case the man who Mercy killed for pimping out his niece. He is playing hero to the people but literally no-one cares about this man’s death or has a good word to say. Also, question question what is Isaac living on? I mean, he seems to have no gainful employment but is doing well for himself – so where’s the money coming from? Did I miss something?

Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 5: The One You've Been Waiting For

We have another Hitler episode and… can we not? It’s almost impossible to do this without it being awful, touching lots of awful and then wallowing in that awful. If you go supernatural it tends to appropriate, if you comedic it tends to be inappropriate, if you go serious it feels like you’re using The Big Bad as a tool to set tone. And when you’re going to do all this in a monster of the week episode

Of course, the Thule have been a recurring theme – Nazi necromancers running around being awful and difficult to kill and awful. They’re burning people so they can leave a signature trail of bodies of people they could just as easily have stabbed and then not have appeared on the Winchester’s radar.

The Winchesters follow the very obvious trail of breadcrumbs to find that the Thule have stolen a Nazi watch and are hunting a woman called Ellie who is waaaay out of her depth but quickly having to accept the existence of the supernatural because of the people burning to death around her

We also have Christoph, babynazi. Babynazi is the son of one of the Thule necromancers who are doing big bad terrible things and he has a shed load of daddy issues because his Nazi daddy isn’t a very nice man and continually emotionally abuses his son for failing to meet his expectations. The Winchesters are unimpressed because a) Nazi and b) The Winchesters have already cornered the market on daddy issues.

Christoph, whether because he’s not that strong willed or just not that invested in the cause or really doesn’t want a bullet in the head, decides to spill all: the Thule want Ellie because she’s related to Hitler. They want the watch because it contains Hitler’s soul. Throw in necromancer and, yes, they want to bring Hitler back

Honestly, do they really thinking the leader of their society needs to be someone who is 70 years out of date. And lost then as well. And in the modern world he’s going to have difficulty gathering a fol-

I’m not even going there.

Z Nation, Season Three, Episode Eight: Election Day

This episode made me want throw my hand in the air with disgust.  Z Nation has always been a show which has difficulty deciding whether it's going to be serious or simply wallow in cheese. After moving the meta along slowly for seven episodes, Z Nation has once again returned to a parody episode.  Unfortunately, it's far from amusing.  I am however going to acknowledge that I watched this in the wake of the election of the talking orange shag carpet and therefore might have felt differently about it if I'd seen it before America had a giant temper tantrum in front of the world. 

When we last left off, Addie and Doc had separated from Warren in Co, on a mission to find Lucy.  At this point, they can hear Kiera's broadcasts but cannot communicate with her.  They make it as far as the South Dakota badlands before the truck they're using breaks down.  They don't have to think about what to do for long because a presidential motorcade arrives.  It seems that once again, Sketchy and Skeezy are the middle of yet another con.  This time, Sketchy has taken on the role of the POTUS and to back up his claim. the duo broke into the Clinton president library and stole his limo.  I hope that they wiped that shit down with antibacterial wipes before they sat in the seats.  Since Sketchy and Skeezy are headed in the same direction, they offer to travel with Doc and Addie.

Once they all arrive in Wall Drug a supply store which is acting as housing to a group of people, Sketchy and Skeezy immediately start their con.  Sketchy takes on the identity of Thurston Howell IV. Yes, that's right, Gilligan's Island.  How completely fitting. Sketchy claims to be president by virtue of being the 137th in line of succession.  His big plan is to build a wall separating the humans from the zombies and to get this done, he needs donations from the populace. Addie and Doc are shocked to see the small group of people eating out of Sketchy's hands.

Sketchy and Skeezy don't get to seal the deal because an opponent shows ups with a different plan. John J Lannister shows up wearing a cheap Trump wig with a plan of his own.  Lannister suggests that they need to dig holes and then drop criminals into the holes to encourage the zombies to jump in and feast on them.  According to Lannister, his plan is a winner because it presents a two prong solution to the ills of apocalypse society. Lannister and Sketchy trade barbs back and forth quoting familiar lines from past politicians, sounding more and more ridiculous with each passing moment but the fact is, people at this point are desperate and need something to be hopeful about. It's a ridiculous mockery.  Because there's no agreement between Lannister and Sketchy as to whose plan is best or who has the right to call themselves president, it's decided that an election is needed and that comes with a debate.  Addie is chosen to act as the debate moderator because she's supposedly neutral. Yes, Z Nation went there.

Friday, November 11, 2016

America Horror Story, Season 6, Episode 9: Chapter 9

For some reason the title of this show feels ironic today. Like nothing on TV can truly be a real American Horror Story any more. Except maybe the news.

Lee and Audrey have just found another survivor – or, rather, Dylan, an actor arrives on the dead Sid’s instructions to stir up a little more drama in a show he assumed would be dead by now. Well it is dead… but not quite the way they thought

Dylan is ex military and is confident he can help them escape – and they decide to go steal one of the Polk’s trucks (so Lee can have another chance to grab the camera with her murder confession on it as well).

Audrey also pushes to rescue Monet

She finds Monet. Lee finds her camera – things are looking good. Except the Polks find Dylan and he is promptly murdered. Audrey kills a Polk in return – but then the Polks bail, taking the truck with them.

Because the Butcher and her minions are on their way – and without their mother the Polks fear they have no protection and even they’re smart enough to get well away.

Unable to move quickly, Lee tells Audrey and Monet to run. And they do – leaving Lee behind

They flee to shelter, but have managed to hold on to the camera, their proof of their own innocence. They watch the tape with all the horrors on it – and see Lee’s confession

Time to start drinking. And I don’t blame them one tiny iota. There are times to be teetotaller. This is not one of them

But outside, Lee isn’t dead. Lee is saved by… someone? I think it’s Forest Gaga since she arrives with a pig heart she makes Lee eat

Yes, we have a new Butcher, complete with the same dramatic speeches which is kind of glorious

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Aftermath, Season One, Episode Seven: What the Thunder Said

So when we last left Aftermath, Mount Rainer was set to explode.  The Copelands are desperate to get off the mountain. They listen as the radio advises which direction they should go but they are cut off.  Things come to a head when the RV overheats and they are forced to stop.  Joshua is confidant that they still have some more time and will just wait until the radiator cools down a bit. Given that the family is outside, Dana and Martin decide to use the time for a little privacy. They don't get to fool around for long because Karen enters the RV.  She's not impressed to see Martin and Dana together and starts to grill them.  For the first time we learn that Martin is 28.  Karen asks about Martin's military service and how he came to be under the command of Booner. Once satisfied, Karen quickly gives the couple her stamp of approval. Look, I know it's the end of the world but there's something wrong with a 28 year old man canoodling with a 15 year old girl and professing his love for her. If this weren't happening at the supposed end of the world, there would be a nice jail cell waiting for Martin. 

The Copelands are able to get moving again.  Jane travels with Brianna and they end up talking about Jane's dead son. It seems that Jane thought that her son was getting better and so she accepted a deployment but unfortunately, Jane's son died while she was away. This of course is a set up to explains Jane's actions later. What obvious bad storytelling.  The caravan is forced to come to a stop when Joshua sees a bald, barefoot man standing in the center of the road.  He claims to be a monk who woke up not far from their current location in this body. The chat with the monk is brought to halt when they come under sniper fire.  Everyone except the Monk and Joshua who has been shot looks for cover. The monk does his mojo thing and kills the sniper. 

Joshua is rushed into the RV because he needs medical attention after being shot in the stomach.  The monk does the woo woo thing and declares that none of Joshua's organs were damaged and removes the bullet with his bare hands.  He then puts some herbs on Joshua's wounds and says that they work better than stitches.  Joshua promptly passes out. The Copelands get moving again and Dana worries about the health of her father prompting Martin to give her some song dance about how only the people who believed they were going to die ever died while he was in battle.  

The whole convoy is forced to stop when the come to a creator blocking off the road. The Monk suggests that they head to the prayer wheel on the mountain because anyone who stands in the prayer wheel will have their wish fulfilled.  Joshua who is now magically healed gets up to discuss this. Seeing Joshua without a mark from the gunshot wound is enough for the Copelands to seriously consider doing as the Monk asks.  Karen and Joshua argue about who should go.  Karen is worried about Joshua's health and he is concerned that she's not exactly a believer. Joshua relents and Karen heads up the mountain with the Monk and Jane because she promised to protect Karen.  The rest of the family decides to head to the avalanche shelter. 

As Karen, Jane and the Monk make their way towards the prayer circle, Joshua, Matt, Dana and Martin drive towards the shelter.  Joshua stops the RV when they come across a couple coming down the mountain. Steve and Anna introduce themselves and explain about losing a friend of theirs on the mountain.  Joshua tells them of their plan to head to the shelters but Steve argues that the shelter only hold enough oxygen for a few people and they are more than a few people.  Joshua feels that it's their only option, so invites Anna and Steve to either join them or make their own way to safety.  Seeing that they have few options, Anna and Steve come along for the ride.  Martin is concerned with how easily Joshua accepted Anna and Steve and ponders whether or not Joshua is too nice of a guy for the apocalypse.

Karen, the Monk and Jane make it to the prayer wheel.  Karen's all set to enter but is stopped when her gun is taken by Jane. It seems that Jane wants to enter the prayer wheel because she wants to see her son again, eruption be damned. Karen tries to talk her down but Jane will have none of it.  The Monk warns that if Jane enters the prayer circle that it won't achieve the result she wants and she responds by shooting him. Jane and Karen scuffle for the gun again but Jane ends up in power again. Jane enters the circle and at first nothing happens but then the rocks begin to float and light shines up from the ground.  Jane gets sucked into the earth and disappears. 

Cold Hearted (Yancy Lazarus #2) by James A Hunter

Yancy Lazarus is a drifter, a gambler, a drinker and a blues man and he’d really like to be left alone. He did his bit for the Guild of the Staff, the wizards’ ruling body, and now he’s past done with them.

But when an old friend asks for help to rescue his grandson from some winter fae, Yancy can hardly say no. He can’t leave a child in their hands.

Unfortunately, the kidnapping of a child is only the beginning of the problems he uncovers – and not only does he find a conspiracy that could cause immense damage, but he also places himself smack in the middle of it. Accused of murder (and then relying on the arresting FBI agent to be an ally), weakened and depowered and targeted by a pissed off mage and some ancient elemental force, Yancy’s own survival depends on him getting back in the fight.

It’s been a while since I read the first book in this series Strange Magic, but despite the wide and rich world it quickly came back to me because it has an excellent voice and tone that’s pretty unique

In the world we have a flawed wizarding organisation

In many ways it reminds me heavily of The Dresden Files but, perhaps due to length of the series so far, not quite on the same scale. But I think that’s also very much due to Yancey – because Yancey generally doesn’t want to get involved. Yancy is getting by and is quite resentful at the Guild of the Staff dragging him any further in.

Yancey is quite happy to slope around the world, preferably warm parts of the world, smoking and drinking and gambling and eating excellent BBQ whenever he can. He’s not into saving the world and he has little faith with the Guild of the Staff, with its far greater emphasis on politics and excessive caution than in actually looking out for the members it’s supposed to be helping.

Yancey isn’t involved in the wider aspects of the world setting here – which is also reflected in the world building: we have lots of hints of various monsters and creatures more than the larger organisations. This draws more from Yancey’s long and varied experiences – so we have some excellent world building about the monsters and creatures Yancey runs up against (which are varied, different and original creations which are excellently depicted for a very action packed book) than the sweeping organisations (though I love the world building around Old Man Winter and the summer and winter fae)

That doesn’t mean there isn’t epic here – but it’s epic that Yancey is beginning to uncover (and reluctantly at that) and become part of. The wider world that they are being dragged into has been excellently hinted at and I’m sure is going to develop much much further in later books.

The whole book has a very noir tone, while not set in that era. It has that cynical, jaded, world-weary sense that really does such a lot to explain Yancey’s character than any amount of overt explanation. You don’t need to have it expressly explained to picture Yancey sat in a dark, smokey bar, looking perhaps 10 or 20 years older than he should be, playing the blues on the piano with a large glass of whiskey to hand; occasionally pausing to share some painful old war stories with people he respects and tells people. The tone is excellent for world building.

The Walking Dead, Season Seven, Episode Three: The Cell

Last week, we got to see what's going on in the Kingdom and Ezekiel's minor rebellions against Negan.  This week, we head into the Saviours compound to see what happened with Darryl since being taken captive.  The writers clearly began depending upon dissonance to help hold this episode together.  The Cell begins with Dwight watching Who's The Boss. Dwight didn't just happen to be watching an eighties sitcom, the audience was meant to ask the question as it relates to the Saviours. The answer of course is Negan, as though we could forget it after watching Negan's brutal murder of Abraham and our beloved Glenn.

We watch as Dwight moves throughout the Saviours compound taking food stuffs from people in order to make a sandwich.  He eats his fill and then makes a dog food sandwich for Darryl, who's being kept naked in a dark closet.  “Easy Street” by The Collapsible Hearts Club, (a song which I came to loathe in this episode) plays in the background.  It's clear that the music is a form of torture for Darryl. You see, The Cell is all about Dwight's attempt to break Darryl for Negan.  The next time we see Dwight, he's carrying Darryl's crossbow and he takes Darryl for a checkup. In Carson's office, Dwight is shocked to see Sherry and a pregnancy test. Sherry is quick to inform Dwight that the test is negative.  Sherry, recognizes Darryl and tries to talk to him but is stopped by Dwight and told to leave.  Carson tells Darryl that things could get easier for him if he would just submit.

After the all clear from Carson, Dwight and Darryl leave the office but they don't get far because they run into Negan and are forced to kneel.  This is when Darryl catches sight of a very cozy living area, complete with a man chair and a television.  Dwight then takes Darryl back to his cell and advises him to simply submit, pointing out that he never thought he would take the knee but eventually did.

Negan is always playing games. I don't think for one minute, Dwight's meeting with Sherry in Carson's office was accidental.  Negan meets with Dwight and offers to reward him for all of the good work that he has done breaking Darryl by offering him a chance to have sex with his wife.  This is not actually a reward but yet another test from Negan to ensure that he still has Dwight's loyalty.  Dwight turns the offer done, prompting Negan to ask if his penis is still functioning. This question isn't asked out of a sense of concern for Dwight but yet another attempt on the part of Negan to emasculate Dwight and remind him exactly who is the boss.  They're then notified that a member of the Sanctuary has escaped with supplies and Dwight is quick to volunteer to go after them, even though Negan points out that this is grunt work.  Dwight claims that he likes doing this.

The next day, we see Dwight leave on Darryl's motorcycle to hunt down the escaped person. A long the way he has a few run ins with walkers and manages to escape. Eventually, Dwight comes across the escaped Saviour fighting off a walker.

Back at the Sanctuary, because of Dwight's absence, Darryl is fed by someone else who quite obviously does not lock the door.  It's patently clear to the audience that this is a trap but Darryl falls for the bait and leaves anyway. As he tries to sneak out, Darryl runs into Sherry, who advises that Darryl returns to his cell because if he gets caught, things can get worse.  Sure enough, the moment Darryl manages to get outside, he finds himself quickly surrounded by Negan and his men.  Even after everything Darryl has been thorough, he refuses to submit which earns him a beating from Negan's men. When Darryl returns to his cell, Sherry stands outside and recalls their time together in the woods last season. She remembers how Darryl warned her that she would be sorry.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Horns by Joe Hill

It's been a year since Merrin Williams, the love Ignatius Perrish's life was raped and murdered.  Not only is he dealing with the loss of Merrin, everyone in the small New England town believes that he is guilty despite the fact that he wasn't charged let alone convicted.  On the anniversary of Merrin's death Ig heads to the place where his beloved died, and gets absolutely pissed. When Ig awakes the next morning he's alarmed to find horns growing out of his head.  He barely has time to deal with the fact that he has horns growing out of his head before he realises that their real curse is that they cause people he runs into to confess their deepest darkest secrets whether they want to or not.  Does anyone really want to know the secrets thoughts of the people they care for?

I picked up this book on a whim because I remembered that Daniel Radcliff starred in the movie based on the book.  I now officially believe that Radcliff owes me for the toxicity that my delicate constitution has been exposed to. Despite the fact that the protagonist wakes up with horns, Horns, is not a horror story; it's magical realism. It attempts to explore the nature of good and evil through a reinterpretation of the biblical scripture and the role of the devil.  Hill really works hard to have a discussion about the nature of evil, the degree to which we perform expectations rather than express our true desires and or feelings. Though the aforementioned applies to some to degree to all of the characters, it's particularly true of the psychopath antagonist Lee.  Lee has disdain for every person he interacts with and seeks to use them in a way that benefits him.  At the end of the day, Lee wants power in all of its forms and will to do anything to achieve it. Lee's hatred seems to fixate on women. He commonly refers to women as sluts, whores, bitches because he finds them to be disposable. He fantasizes about abusing his 15 year old neighbour, clubbing Glenna to death, that "irresponsible bitches who do drugs have to get sterilized".  Lee murders and rapes Merrin and essentially tortures his mother to death. 

Unlike other books where one could argue that that the antagonist has been written this way to convey that they are evil and need to be stopped, the misogyny doesn't begin and end with him. The entirety of Horns is littered with misogynist language and just about every character engages in it.  Even children are not spared as we learn when a little girl throws a temper tantrum in the doctor's office.
"Several of them glanced at Ig as he entered, a few in a hopeful sort of way, fantasizing, perhaps, that the little girl’s father had arrived to take her outside and deliver a brutal spanking. But as soon as they saw him, they looked away, knew in a glance that he wasn’t there to help."
Ig doesn't even stop to reflect on how wrong it is that people are fantasizing about abusing a little girl to silence her. He just accepts it as though it's normal and yet he is held up as the moral arbiter in Horns. He doesn't flinch when Lee calls women the most misogynist names. 

The only woman who is uplifted in this novel is Merrin and she is murdered and raped. Merrin knows what she wants out of life and who she wants to spend time with.  It's Merrin who initiates a relationship with Ig. Merrin doesn't last as a realised person for very long and quickly becomes this ethereal like figure to be worshiped and placed on a pedestal only to die for Lee's desire to possess her and Ig's man pain. By the end we know more about how Merrin's red hair looks like in the sun, the whiteness of her skin and the shabbiness of her wardrobe than we do of her as a person. The worst part of this all for me is that when Merrin is raped and murdered, she's actually thankful for the quick end because she has a fast moving form of breast cancer. 

Even as Merrin is set up as an angel, Glenna, the woman Ig moves in with after her death receives the exact opposite treatment.  Glenna unlike Merrin is from the wrong side of town and poor.  She works as a hairdresser and is not valued by anyone, least of all Lee and Ig.  Lee calls Glenna a fat slut repeatedly and brags about using her for sex.  For Ig, Glenna is simply someone to fill the void with and he never really considers her feelings until the end. Glenna, of course, suffers from low self esteem and so it's suggested that she allows men to treat her badly.  Neither Ig or Lee take any responsibility for how they treat Glenna. She's just a warm body who exists for their comfort and to be pitied because she's poor.  

The Strain, Season 3, Episode 10: The Fall

It is the grand finale, we can tell this because Abraham has a totally dramatic voice over to prepare this big finale.

Eldritch meets Abraham to announce he’s stolen the Master’s nuclear bomb and totally filled Eichorst full of silver and isn’t this awesome. The plan is now to have Palmer return home and wait for the Master to come get him so he can get his bomb back – because his go-to-man Eichorst is out of the picture. When he does, Vasiliy, Abraham, Ephraim, Dutch and Quinlan will all pile on him and drop him in his silver box then drop said silver box in the ocean (where silver, being a relatively soft metal and trapping a very strong master, will eventually be worn away and the Master will be freed but that’s future generations’ problem).

It’s not a bad plan. Unfortunately we also have to deal with Vasiliy whining at Ephraim and slut shaming Dutch

Unfortunately the Master has a backup plan. Firstly, no villain is dead until you see the body. This is a rule. Eichorst is healed but doesn’t really join in the fight he goes off to play happy families with Kelly and Zack. Yes, alas, Zack is still around, playing with his creepy vampire bodyguard (as you do). Zack seems to be redefining Stockholm syndrome, is happy for his little vampire pet to kill people and in complete denial about Kelly. Alas, nothing killed him

So the Master pre-empts Eldritch’s party by arriving early (rude!) and when Palmer, back against the wall, points out only he knows the code to the safe where the nuke is kept, the Master is officially done with his nonsense and does a body swap: he takes over Palmer, has a whole new body and can easily claim the Nuke and hand it to Eichorst to play with with Kelly and Zach

This is not going to plan.

Thankfully he’s still evil so rather than just ignoring the gang or just filling Palmer’s tower with 8 gajillion vampires, he decides to take them all on on his own. And not even ambush them because he decides to taunt Abraham and Ephraim first so they know they face the Master

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lucifer, Season Two, Episode Seven: My Little Monkey

I think that they should have titled this episode, everyone's got shit to work out.  Mazikeen is struggling to find a paying job.  Linda has gone into hiding after seeing Lucifer's true face.  For his part, Lucifer is feeling adrift having been cut from Linda and is still reeling from the death of this brother.  Detective Douche seems to have it altogether on the surface but is still dealing with his mistakes and impending divorce.  Finally, Chloe learns that the man who killed her father is being released on a compassionate leave to attend his granddaughter's christening.

As we have come to expect, this week is of course another case of the week.  It's a good thing Tom Ellis rocks in the role of Lucifer because the whole procedural thing is so not interesting.  At any rate, after finding out that her father's killer is going to get a compassionate release, Chloe decides to follow the vehicle, only to find the van stopped, the guards shot dead and her father's killer dead in the back. And that's it folks, we're off to the races.  Because of a conflict of interest, Dan is assigned to the case because somehow, investigating the murder of your father in-law isn't a massive conflict of interest for him.

Dear writers, just for one damn week, could we please move away from cliche shit? Please?  Anyway, Chloe's out on this one but Detective Douche doesn't have to go it alone because Lucifer decides to partner with him in order to learn to be a douche himself. This includes, wearing similar clothing to Dan, combing his hair like Dan, affecting a bad American accent, and doing Dan's walk.  This of course is played for jokes but is unsurprisingly not amusing.  They've been trying to turn these two in a bromance for awhile now and so this feels forced as fuck. 

As Dan and Lucifer work on the case of the man who was convicted of killing Chloe's father, Chloe begins to re-investigate her father's murder after finding out that man who originally convicted, was in fact innocent. Chloe learns that when his daughter shows up to kill her, inspired by a recording on which the convicted killer claims to be innocent. 

After a little investigation, Lucifer and Detective Douche learn that people have been taking payments to admit to a crime in order to make money to support their families.  Chloe confirms that this is what happened with the man who confessed to the murder of her father.  Lucifer really could have gone a little further with this but of course dropped the first interesting thing in this episode quickly.

Cursed (The Thrice Cursed Mage #1) by J.A. Cipriano

When Mac Brennan wakes up in a dumpster the only thing that he can remember about himself is his name.  It also doesn't help that he's naked as the day he was born and that his left arm is covered in a black tar like substance which seems to turn red when he is in peril.  Mac knows that there's something he needs to accomplish and that time is running out but he has no idea what that might possibly be.  Before Mac has a chance to even remotely figure any of this all out, he finds that he has angered a werewolf and that they are out for blood.

Cursed is only 184 pages long but it felt like a three hundred page book.  I only managed to finish it through a fierce determination. No way was I letting Cursed defeat me but it was a very near thing. There's absolutely no character development in Cursed, not even for the protagonist, who for some strange reason has to repeatedly remind the reader of his name. Not only does Mac repeatedly say his name, he takes the time to tell the reader that he can accomplish anything.   I suppose I should be thankful that Mac at least refrained from referring to himself in the third person, though he did sound like a ridiculous author insert.

So the long and short of it is that Mac sold his soul to a demon and in return he gained some pretty amazing powers.  Cipriano uses Mac's amnesia as a device to cover for the fact that when ever Mac is in any kind of trouble, he pulls a new power out of his ass or mumbles some mystical phrase and boom, problem solved. I could have dealt with this if it happened once or twice but it was a near constant throughout Cursed.  Having these long action scenes allowed Cipriano to avoid having to do any work with real world building or characterisation.

So, Mac knows that there's a woman and a child that he cares about who are in danger.  It would make sense if he put all of his efforts into learning about himself, his skill set, or even the people he knows he cares about who are in danger.  What does Mac do?  He decides to risk his life, take on a demon, werewolves and a fellow Cursed, all in an effort to save a woman and child that he's known for a N.Y. minute. What the ever loving hell? In fact, it's not until the last few pages of the book that he finally gets around to searching for the people he cares for.  This of course is when Cursed ends on a cliffhanger of sorts because there's no better way to finish off a book filled with cliches than with a shitty ending.

Once Upon a Time, Season 6, Episode 7: Heartless

Load up your insulin folks, it’s an episode focusing on the Charmings, the sickliest of saccharine sappiness.

The Evil Queen (EQ) is wandering around looking amazing and reminding us how awesome Regina can be if you give her her deserved screen time. Alas she’s obsessed with the Sappy Duo, which means they get more screen time as well

Specifically she wants them to give up their hearts otherwise she’s going to douse the town in liberal amounts of rivery styx water which will be terribad awful. They have 12 hours to submit to heart ripping

See, this nonsense is why I have so little patience with villains. Seriously, you have this big vendetta against the Charmings you could just throw a fireball at them. Get a shotgun, stab them. And river styx water? Is cyanide not an option here?

In response to this over dramatic threat, the goodguys decide to find a Sapling of True Love

Of course they do.

This sapling was created by true love, is super rare and super magical with all its saccharine sappiness, is powerful enough to capture the EQ. Unlike the collected power of Emma, Regina, the Blue Fairy and Rumple (and don’t tell me they couldn’t persuade him, he has no loyalty with Regina. Even Zelena’s loyalty is dubious) – but we wouldn’t know that because they’ve not really tried.

They try to distract the bad guys by revealing the EQ having an affair with Rumple (Regina is duly uncomfortable with the idea) to Zelena to get her green skinned jealousy going. It doesn’t really work though as they’re not fools.

This ends up with Regina getting her hands on the Sappy Sapling and destroying it.

We also get the flashback of where this sapling grew. Basically back in the day when Snow White was marginally less sappy and running around the woods escaping assassins, her path happened to cross with David’s. They never actually each other but they managed to defeat the assassin together, she gave him her escape money to keep his farm while she decided not to escape and to become a bandit having rediscovered hope (a kind of vague, endlessly sappy hope follows Snow wherever she happens to be).

Monday, November 7, 2016

Mortal Ties (World of the Lupi #9) by Eileen Wilks

Cullen Seaborn, the Nokolai werewolf and sorcerer has created a prototype that could change so much for the world – helping reduce the ongoing problem of the magical turn which is so destructive for technology. Albeit with a few side effects that still need ironing out

Those side effects make it all the more important to track it down when it is stolen. Made even more of a problem when the very existence of that prototype was supposed to be a carefully kept secret only known to Nokolai loyalists.

It becomes even more complicated when the thief gets in it – and it’s Rule’s unknown half-brother with additional problem of both Robert Friar’s evil manipulations and two different factions of sidhe.

I love Lily. I don’t think I’ve stressed this enough about how utterly awesome this character is. Because above everything else she is professional and she is sensible – and my gods that is so very rare in this genre

Lily is a cop and it permeates her character. I love to see that professionalism in everything –how she looks at every scene as a crime scene, how she sums up every person as a witness or suspect. Her logical, sensible way of summing up every situation she’s in with intelligence and logic. This is, more than anything, Lily’s super power. Not her abilities, not her immunity to magic, not any kind of fighting skill – but her intelligence and her professionalism. The way she approaches every mystery and investigation with keen intellect and steady progress is so excellent. Especially in this genre where most protagonists decide to “solve” crimes by hanging around until the bad guy tries to kill them (often with no apparent reason). Lily is a dedicated and capable investigator.

I also like the conflict of her development, especially how she needs rules to ensure she doesn’t step outside the law, I like the way she recognises what she is actually capable of rather than, again, so many protagonists who are happy to decide they are the ultimate authority and don’t need any pesky rules.

She’s also a woman of deep passion who cares desperately for those around her but makes decisions without emotion. All her decisions are rational. She cares about Beth, her sister and Rule, her fiancĂ© but she doesn’t let caring for them make ridiculous decisions. She doesn’t have massive over-dramatic reactions to things like Rule not telling her everything or them having a disagreement. When Rule is going through difficult times Lily is so perfect, she’s there for him while giving

In fact that’s something else I love about this book – the relationships between the characters is so sensible without being emotionless. Beth, Lily’s little sister, is obviously a very different woman from Lily – but their relationship was meaningful and deep, their disagreements present but handled in a sensible manner without either side doing something ridiculous or turning against each other. I love the dramatic emotional moments of Beth, the complexities of her dealing with things like killing someone, even in self defence and what that does to someone.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Class, Season One, Episode Four: Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart

Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart marks the halfway point of season one.  It is also the first of a two-part episode.  At this point, I think that we are very much still learning about who the characters are and what kind of relationship they have with each other. This makes Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart a problem.  It moves far too fast and drives the narrative along like a speeding bullet. Unlike American shows which typically run longer, Class doesn't have a choice but to keep its story telling tight. If this were a more established show like it's parent show Doctor Who, it wouldn't be a problem because we understand the basic premise of that world and the Doctor always provides continuity.

Last week we learned that April survived an attempt by her father to kill her and this week, Huw shows up after being released from prison.  It seems that despite a court order that he is to have no contact with his family, Huw desperately wants to reconnect.  His timing however couldn't be worse because Corakinus has decided that he no longer wants to share a heart with a teenage girl. I'm actually quite surprised by Class's quick return to the Shadowkin and the issue of April's heart.

Corakinus's first attempt to sever his connection with April ends up strengthening the bond between the two of them.  Talk about a backfire.  The effect on April is almost immediate.  In class, she starts to talk about soldiers and how ridiculous it is that they should feel any kind of fear and that those who do deserve to die.  This is far out of character for the April we have gotten to know thus far.  The only one to really notice what is going on is Ram

April is resistant to telling anyone about her struggle but finally breaks down and tells Ram. The budding relationship between April and Ram which class started last week, is culminated in this episode when the two end up sleeping together.  Corakinus then feels his own groove and starts flashing mating eyes.  When he's gotten his however, he's not content because he wants to cuddle. This is played for comedy and it actually works quite well.

The story line with the other characters is really quite separate this episode. Matteusz is very curious about Charlie's culture and so Charlie opens the cabinet of souls and explains that though it's a weapon, there's a legend about a hero bringing everyone who has died back to life. For Charlie, this represent hope, though Matteusz clearly does not believe that it's worth the risk to keep the cabinet. What they don't know is that Quill heard the entire conversation and as a result, knows that Charlie lied to her. This is going to have repercussions. At this point however, Charlie is so sure of his control of Quill that he has no problem ordering her to attend a parent/teacher conference so that he can learn about his progress.  He gives little thought to how Quill feels and absolutely feels justified in his treatment of her, despite Matteusz and Tanya calling him out for keeping Quill as a slave.

The Shadowkin aren't the only threat in this episode.  Tree blossoms are appearing out of season and feasting on the blood of animals.  The first and only person to really notice is the new head teacher Dorothea. Unlike her predecessor, Dorothea is in the know as far as the supernatural and its connection with the school.  After noticing that the blossoms seem to double after being fed a little bit of her blood, Dorothea immediately recognizes the threat. If something isn't done, the blossoms will suffocate people as they cover the world in their desire to feed.  To deal with this, Dorothea reaches out to Quill and offers her something she thought she'd never have again - her freedom.  The tree blossoms didn't feature largely in this episode but I very much get the feeling that they'll have a huge role in episode five.

Vampire Diaries, Season 8, Episode 3: You Decided That I Was Worth Saving

Caroline is now engaged to Stefan and all buzzing about the engagement, a buzz she shares with Bonnie. It’s a little awkward when just last week Bonnie and Caroline realised how much Caroline was waving her happiness in Bonnie’s face when Bonnie’s love and life was in ruins. This kind of exacerbates all that but at least Caroline seems to recognise that and make a pledge about Bonnie and Enzo and continually checks whether Bonnie is ok.

Meanwhile Sybil is obsessing more and more over making sure both Enzo and Damon are completely devoted to her. Why she doesn’t just write them off and pick two new guys for whatever nefarious plan she has, I don’t know. This means wandering around in Damon’s skull trying to get rid of his feelings for Bonnie and continued poking of Enzo to try and get him to turn off his humanity

Step one is to try and get Damon to kill Bonnie, hoping that will solve everything but Caroline and Bonnie both derail this

Can I say again how much I’m not happy about Bonnie losing her magic? Because I hate that she has been so depowered. Yet at the same time one advantage of this is she isn’t being used as a tool or resource- and is even being treated as someone valuable to protect. I hate her being so weakened but for the first time there’s a level of caring about Bonnie rather than as a useful tool. Is this what it takes to finally treat Bonnie as a person rather than a disposable tool.

Eventually, frustrated she decides to visit Bonnie and ask just why both Enzo and Damon are so completely obsessed with her, especially Damon since their relationship is platonic.

This talk is really all about setting up another nefarious and overly complicated scheme. Seriously, I second Caroline – why in the name of common sense isn’t Sybil doing something with her immortal, newly freed existence other than hang around in rural Virginia doing weird things with hot vampire minds

So her nefarious scheme involves having Damon and Enzo fight to kill each other unless Bonnie picks one to die and the other to live on as Sybil’s slave. Also continuing the Hell theme, of course the one to die will live in eternal torment

Of course no-one’s happy with this – and Damon has recruited Stefan not to help rescue him but to help kill Enzo so Damon can live

Class, Season One, Episode Three: Nightvisiting

What would you do if someone you loved desperately had died and then they suddenly showed up? What would you do if they offered you their hand while telling you that they were there to take away all of your pain and that you could be together again?  This is the true horror of Nightvisiting.

It begins with a flashback to Tanya's parents meeting and then quickly shifts to birth of her and her siblings. As we watch, the family leads their lives and even celebrates Christmas, before culminating in the death of her father by a stroke two years ago.  At is turns out, today is the anniversary of her father's death and Tanya is still grieving and in a lot of pain.  She goes with her family to her father's grave site and leaves flowers in remembrance of him. When Jasper (her father) suddenly appears in Tanya's bedroom, the lure of her father is difficult to resist.

All over town, people are being visited by their dead loved ones and are told all they have to do is reach out. They are told that the Lankins, an alien race, collects the souls of the dead and that if they take the hands of their dead loves one, they can be connected to them forever.  Tanya is of course suspicious and asks all kinds of question trying to get Jasper to slip up.  Jasper knows everything about Tanya, including how she got the nickname Puddle.  Tanya however isn't at all convinced and believes that Jasper could be reading her mind.  You see, despite all of the emotional pull, Jasper, like all of the dead are connected to this plant like being.

All though the Lankin feature greatly in this episode, Nightvisiting isn't about them per say. Ram for instance continues to be extremely troubled by the death of his girlfriend Rachel.  We learn that April's mother is paralyzed because her father in a fit of depression drove his family off a cliff.  April survived unscathed but her mother ended up paralyzed from the neck down. April's father was sentenced to time in prison, though he explained why he did what he did. Miss. Quill gets a visit from her sister, who tried to kill her in the nest. And finally, Charlie sees his parents briefly but they don't actually reach out to him because their bond was never that close.  Charlie reveals that he has much stronger bonds now and this is evidenced by his relationship with his new boyfriend Matteusz.

I want to stop for a moment to talk about Charlie and Matteusz, who arrives at Charlie's home after being thrown out by his parents.  Matteusz explains that as long as he didn't have a boyfriend, his parents (his father in particular) was able to pretend that he wasn't gay.  In Charlie's case, he was more of a political tool than anything to his parents and they never actively chose to bond with him. Together, they are able to give each other what they both have longed for - love and acceptance. I really think that this is an important point because far too many LGBT youth are discarded by their parents as though they are refuse when their sexuality becomes known.  In Charlie's case, we don't know if the bond failure is because he's gay, particularly given that we don't know his culture's take on homosexuality but that's certainly the case for Matteusz.  I'm very much impressed that Class chose to not only include gay characters but to deal with the effects of homophobia, even as it brings Charlie and Matteusz together.

Van Helsing, Season 1, Episode 8: Little thing

The gang is on the move in Axl’s tankbulance

Can we look at this for a moment because I have to question the practicality of spikes on this damn thing. A vampire could cling to them while the ambulance drives around. And if you do use it to impale someone, great, you’re now trying to drive a not-very-manouverable vehicle at the best of times with corpses flailing around in front of your windscreen, impaled in place.

Anyway, the gang sets off heading to the military base Axl has decided is their new mission even though some of the gang are finally questioning why he is holding to missions he’s kind of making up as he goes along. Especially when they hear church bells and some of the gang would quite like to check that out. Doc is the one who swings it though – her sister was at this military base and may have some answers about Vanessa (who, herself, is ambivalent about what the military wanted with her or will do to her)

Instead they arrive at the base to find out it’s pretty much abandoned. No sign of a struggle – but completely empty. Doc and Vanessa do find Doc’s sister’s (Grace) office – and signs that she was working on way more than Doc was aware of. The only information they find about Vanessa is a reference to a “farm”.

In the base they do find Goran – a man who has been split up from his group, the resistance. I think he’s been cast as the friendly but not too bright big guy. The gang is suspicious and worried about using dwindling resources on more people – but Vanessa cuts through that (having lived through the apocalypse less than most people) and points out they can’t just send someone away because they’re hungry.

This does raise the question of exactly what to do next – and Axl wants to hunker down and wait it out again – assuming there’s a way it can be waited out. And despite the land mines, the base is too big with too many windows and entrances to fortify like he did the hospital. Facing people actually *gasp* arguing with him